Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic is progressing toward a return from the serious leg injuries he suffered last March. Nurkic fully participated in practice on Wednesday, including a 5-on-5 halfcourt scrimmage, Jason Quick of The Athletic tweets.
“I guess it’s a milestone, but it’s part of his progression,’‘ head coach Terry Stotts said.
The team had targeted this week to increase his workload, but there’s still no definitive date for his return to action, Quick adds.
Nurkic, 25, was a major reason for Portland’s success in recent seasons. He was enjoying a career year, posting a career high 15.6 PPG, 10.4 RPG, 3.2 APG and 1.4 BPG before he suffered compound fractures to his left tibia and fibula in a double-overtime win over the Nets on March 25.
The most recent report regarding a timetable indicated that Nurkic and the club were targeting a return close to the All-Star break next month.
Portland has been one of the most disappointing teams in the league this season. Its 19-26 record ranks 10th in the Western Conference, though the Blazers are not far from the eighth and final playoff spot. Injuries to Zach Collins and Rodney Hood have factored into the severe drop-off after winning 53 games in the regular season a year ago and advancing to the Western Conference finals.
Nurkic’s return could certainly boost their prospects of returning to the postseason, though Hassan Whiteside (15.5 PPG, 14.1 RPG, 3.0 BPG) has been a solid replacement in the middle after being acquired from the Heat during the offseason.